Creatives for Palestine: A call to our community

Aude Nasr
As storytellers and artists, we have a crucial role to play in challenging the decades-long dehumanisation of Palestinians. Now is the time to direct all our collective efforts towards Palestinian liberation.

Skin Deep stands in unequivocal support for Palestinian liberation, and always has done. For anyone familiar with our work, this will come as no surprise. We are reiterating this in the context of the calls for an immediate halt to the genocidal violence currently being enacted by the settler colonial state of Israel. Palestinians have been subjected to daily violence by colonial forces for at least a century – first through British colonialism and then the newly-created Israeli state, most significantly during the Nakba (the catastrophe) of 1948 – so we call not only for a ceasefire now, but for an end to the colonial occupation of Palestine. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.

The escalating violence, the destruction of homes, hospitals, schools, churches and mosques that amounts to the collective punishment of the civilian population of Palestine, a war crime under international law, must be met with global condemnation and direct action. To share the words of our dear friend and long-time collaborator Zena Agha: 

“Donating is good, but by far the most effective thing you can do now is speak up, especially if you’re located in the UK/US/EU and have elected representatives. Please write to your Congresspeople, MPs, Senators, etc (even if they gaslight you). Where you see bias in the press, complain to regulators. Engage in uncomfortable conversations in your workplaces, unions, universities, families, friend groups. Show up to protests and walk with tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousand, of others. In short, dissent. Don’t be somebody who, in the future, only when it’s safe to do so and there’s no personal risk to be felt from calling a genocide by its name, will say you were always against this. Say it now, and say it often. As Angela Davis reminds, Palestine is a moral litmus test for the world.”

For those of us who have first-hand experience of structural violence and oppression, we know the importance of being able to simultaneously respond to immediate threats of the present and imagine the different world we’re aiming towards, to hold both grief for now and hope for then. So even as we are reacting to the present violence in Palestine, we must still make space to envision the future of safety and freedom we’re reaching for. Skin Deep’s work has always been about allowing Black people and people of colour to think beyond crisis and survival, to dream of just futures. We believe there is space for this work even now. 

We call on our fellow arts and culture organisations and practitioners to use their resources, skills, networks and creativity to contribute to the struggle for Palestinian liberation. As storytellers and artists, we have a crucial role to play in challenging the ways Palestinians have been systematically dehumanised and silenced over multiple decades, which has led us to a place where people are able to watch passively as Palestinians are massacred.

We have a responsibility to use our public platforms and our influence to educate audiences, to support mobilisation efforts (such as marches, protests, sit-ins), to raise funds, and to call for multiple kinds of direct international action such as the support of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). 

We must also provide care to one another, particularly those most directly affected and those working most relentlessly to end the violence. We are grateful to those who have already been opening up physical and virtual spaces for healing support over these last weeks. Looking after one another is crucial to sustaining the pressure – this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Finally, we must hold each other accountable and demand more from all those we work with in the arts and culture industries. Refuse to work for or accept funding from organisations that support Israel’s occupation. Ask the institutions you work with what they are doing for Palestinian liberation, and how they are using their platforms to speak out against apartheid and genocide. Let them know that this matters to you. If we all refuse to accept complacency, silence and complicity, together we will move the needle.

You or your organisation may not always be best placed to do all of these things. If that’s the case, figure out how you can resource and uplift those who are. What financial support can you offer to those who can tell stories that will make a difference? What logistical support can you offer to those who are taking care of people? Can you offer your comms channels to highlight important work being done by those with less reach than you?

As artists, writers, poets, musicians, curators, producers, teachers, youth workers, filmmakers, theatre-makers and all those working across the arts, we should all be asking ourselves: what can I do, with what I have, in service of both this critical moment and the long term commitment to Palestinian resistance? What are the ways we can strengthen movements, deconstruct harmful systems, imagine new worlds, and then build towards them?

Community support is more important now than it ever has been; none of this works if we try to do it on our own. Make and nurture connections, offer support, ask for help and guidance, reach out to people and organise together. We are strongest when we understand ourselves as part of an ecology: organisms with different roles within a wider ecosystem.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to our Palestinian siblings as we fight for liberation, and we will continue to dream a free Palestine into existence. We must continue to speak out and take action against imperial and colonial violence and systems of oppression. Today, tomorrow, and every day into the future. 

For those looking for more information and ways to help, we are including some reading and resources below. 

In strength and solidarity, 

Skin Deep

Donate to direct relief efforts:

Resources to help better understand October 2023:

For marches, rallies, actions:

Recent work we have published, rooted in the life and liberation of Palestinian people:

Social media accounts to follow / journalists on the ground in Gaza:

Explore more

Can a card game help to imagine a decolonised Palestine?
A reading list for Palestine solidarity